After the Salukis’ sluggish offense cost them both games of a series-opening double-header Saturday against Bradley University, sophomore Jayna Spivey’s first career grand slam Sunday helped them take one of three games in the final regular season Missouri Valley Conference matchup.
“I thought that was a really huge boost by Jayna because it was a great at-bat, and I thought she wasn’t going to be denied, and she was really locked in,” coach Kerri Blaylock said.
SIU (34-19, 16-10 MVC) lost both games Saturday 6-4 and 4-0 but won 11-5 in the final game of the series Sunday against the Braves (21-29, 11-15 MVC). The Salukis led the all-time series (55-23) against the Braves, including a six-game winning streak in the last two seasons. Game two’s 4-0 win was the first time the Braves had won by more than two runs since 1989.
Blaylock said it’s important to recognize when other teams come out and compete well, but she said the Salukis struggled offensively and couldn’t get things done when at bat.
“You’ve got to give credit to Bradley for coming out and playing the way that they did,” Blaylock said. “I thought that we were tight offensively and couldn’t string any good at-bats together, and I thought Bradley attacked and we didn’t respond very well.”
Blaylock said the team didn’t manage its at-bats the way she would’ve liked and that the team tried to win the game off one swing instead of exercising patience.
The Salukis’ offense finally sparked in game three Sunday with senior center fielder Mallory Duran-Sellers, who went three-for-five with two runs scored and an RBI. Kelsea Ashton, Taylor Orsburn and Meredith Wilson each had two hits.
Despite the first two losses in Saturday’s doubleheader, Blaylock said the team’s offense came alive Sunday.
“I thought the offense was really locked in today,” Blaylock said Sunday. “They could have been down after back-to-back home runs in the first inning, but we believed and settled in and got good at-bats to string some things together.”
Senior infielder Alicia Junker said the team had poor at-bats, but she said the objective is to never settle and to finish strong.
Duran-Sellers said even though the team lost the first two games, it was good to come back and battle in the final game. She said the team has experienced a lot of adversity this season but has learned to compete until the end.
“I think we battled back well,” Duran-Sellers said. “We started off slow and hit somewhat of a lull. It was good to see us come back out and battle back.”
Duran-Sellers said it’s frustrating to see the team’s offense go downhill, especially after it was the top offensive team in the MVC. She said SIU is a good offensive team, and she was glad for a comeback in the end.
The Salukis will be the No. 4 seed in next week’s MVC Championships and will play 4 p.m. Thursday at Charlotte West Stadium against the winner of the No. 5 Creighton and No. 8 Evansville game.